July 13, 2018, by Cecile Gutscher
Donald Trump touched down in the U.K. for his first visit since he became U.S. president — and courted controversy within hours of his arrival by attacking his host’s Brexit policy. In an interview with the Sun newspaper that appeared after Theresa May dined with Trump at Blenheim Palace, the president said the prime minister’s plans for a soft exit from the European Union would likely end hopes of a trade deal with the U.S. He also reportedly said that Boris Johnson, who quit her cabinet this week, would be a “great” leader. Meanwhile, his blustery performance at the NATO summit in Brussels, where he attacked Germany, didn’t win the concession he was seeking from partners to increase their share of NATO military spending. French President Emmanuel Macron said the allies simply reaffirmed the 2 percent of gross domestic product target agreed in 2014. Investors in emerging markets, for their part, are pinning their hopes on the faint promise of a thaw offered by Monday’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Kremlin officials are said to be in intense talks with their counterparts in Washington to strike at least one deal that would allow Trump to declare the meeting in Helsinki a success.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell gave an upbeat assessment of the U.S. economy but warned a sustained period of high tariffs on a wide variety of imports could be harmful to growth. In an interview on American Public Media’s “Marketplace” program, he said the economy is in a “good place” with unemployment at its lowest level in years and inflation close to the central bank’s 2 percent target. The market isn’t fully subscribing to the Fed’s bullish projection of three hikes next year.
JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. get the U.S. bank earnings season started. Healthy gains are expected in capital returns to shareholders but big upside surprises are not, given the tougher scenarios presented in the Fed’s recent stress tests and potential changes to capital rules. After the six biggest U.S. banks posted a 7 percent jump in revenue in the first quarter, analysts predict the second quarter’s bounce was less than half that, for a combined $109 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. A flattening yield curve and a potential trade war threaten to make the second half even worse.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced 0.6 percent, while Japan’s Topix index closed 1.2 percent higher as the yen was the only G-10 currency to strengthen against the dollar. China’s Shanghai Composite Index dipped 0.2 percent. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index added 0.1 percent as of 5:55 a.m. S&P 500 futures were flat, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.84 percent and gold dropped.
AT&T-Time Warner challenge
The U.S. Justice Department said it’s appealing a judge’s decision allowing AT&T Inc.’s takeover of Time Warner Inc., renewing the government’s antitrust fight against a merger that created a telecommunications and media giant. The case has been closely watched because it’s the first time in decades a court has decided a merger of companies that operate in a different parts of a supply chain — so-called vertical deals. A loss for the government would set a binding precedent that could restrict future enforcement while a win would enhance the government’s ability to police the deals.